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Rob Ryser | Aug. 5, 2021 | Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 11:13 p.m.
DANBURY — An advisory group of city leaders are supporting a $13 million solar panel project expected to save taxpayers $700,000 annually in long-term energy costs.
The unanimous backing by the advisory group clears the way for the City Council to approve the contract as soon as September to install solar panels on the roofs of five schools and the Danbury Library.
Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo is behind the project because of its “tremendous savings going forward.”
Under the plan, the city would be reimbursed $8 million in state construction grants to put solar panels on Broadview, Rogers Park and Westside middle schools, King Street Primary School, and Danbury High School.
The city would pay $5 million to put solar panels on Danbury Library — a cost that is expected to be made up in electricity savings over nine years.
Ellsworth Avenue and Park Avenue elementary schools already have solar panels. Other schools with older roofs that need to be replaced are not thought to be good candidates, city officials said.
During a discussion by the advisory group in July, Aaron Alibro, a representative from consultant Johnson Controls, Inc., told members that “the energy production savings is guaranteed with a 25-year warranty.”
The city would start enjoying its energy savings after the project was paid off, said David St. Hilaire, the city’s finance director, during the July advisory group meeting.
The project could be completed by next summer.
The idea got its start from discussions between city officials, school board members and a consultant about “a project that would be energy efficient and cost effective,” Hilaire said.
Hilaire said the discussion could lead to similar initiatives.
“We’re not looking at this as a one-time thing,” Hilaire told The News-Times earlier this month.